To date, Labour and the Lib Dems have hugely outspent the Conservatives on targeted advertising online in this election but are currently behind in the polls , potentially calling into question the efficacy of online advertising.
Between the start of the campaign (November 6), and last Friday (November 29), the Labour Party spent £841,212 on targeted advertising across SnapChat, Google, Facebook and Instagram. This is more than double the £375,917 spent by the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats are the second biggest spenders on £578,350, while the Brexit Party have spent £337,452.
Unfortunately for Labour and the Lib Dems, a higher outlay on political ad spend online is not yet correlating with a good performance in the polls. According to a recent YouGov poll using the same method that effectively predicted the 2017 election, the Conservatives are set to win 359 out of 650 seats, with the Labour Party on 211 and the Liberal Democrats on 13. The Brexit Pary are not predicted to win any seats at all.
Total Party Spend on Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Instagram (6th Nov-29th of November)
|1) Labour Party||£841,212|
|2) Liberal Democrats||£578,350|
|4) Brexit Party||£337,452|
The Labour Party have been the largest political advertiser on SnapChat targeting the youth vote, while the Brexit Party have been the biggest users of Google, possibly aiming to reach older voters that do not use social media.
There are still 10 days to go before votes are cast, and the latest data suggests that Tory spending may be on the rise. Furthermore, with a highly volatile electorate, polls are rightly being viewed with some scepticism. However, if the relationship between spend and support remains the same, it could call into question how influential online advertising actually is.
Remainer’s Outspending Online
The disparity in spend breaks down along Leave-Remain lines, with the figures showing that Parties that are either pro-remain or back a 2nd Referendum (i.e. Labour and the Lib Dems), have spent twice as much on online advertising as Parties who support Brexit (i.e. the Tories and Brexit Party).
This disparity is even greater when you look at spending by non-Party groups on either side. Pro-remain groups, including Best for Britain, People’s Vote and Mike Galsworthy have spent a combined total of £255,577. By contrast, non-party leave groups have spent just £5,670.
The combined spend by pro-Remain and or pro-second referendum Parties and groups is £1,896,276, which dwarfs that of the pro-Leave Parties and groups, who have spent just £801,729.
If the disparity in spending persists, and the YouGov poll proves an accurate predictor of the election outcome, this will this will provide an effective counter-argument to those that viewed Cambridge Analytica and Aggregate IQ as the defining factors in the electoral victories of Trump and Brexit.